where wildly different is perfectly normal
2020: Roses, Buds, & Thorns
2020: Roses, Buds, & Thorns

2020: Roses, Buds, & Thorns

The good, the okay, & the absolute worst

2020 really has been a mixed bag, hasn’t it? And by mixed bag I mean what kind of shit will it be today? Will it be just your standard dog poop smeared all over and into your favorite shoe, moistly squishing between your bare toes? Maybe steaming horse droppings in a greasy paper bag aflame on your porch, tiny crap embers flying into your hair and mouth? Or just piles upon massive piles of shit blocking your way, no matter where you turn?

The year has been absolute shit is where I’m going here.

But poop makes great fertilizer, right? Surely there’s something positive that blossomed in this giant steaming pile. Sometimes you just have to pull on your full torso hazmat suit, take a deep breath, and plunge into the poop pool.

Roses! Roses grow in poop! Don’t they? Maybe not. With the amount of crap 2020 has flung about my rose bushes should be in much better shape than they are. We’re giving them one more year before tearing them out and planting something less finicky. Like plastic flowers and rocks.

But roses are the good in this crappy analogy I have going here, so lemme dig deep to find some. We’re all healthy. In any other year that would be met with a confused “okay?,” but in this, Our Year of Misery 2020, health is golden. Take it not for granted, so say we all. I’m employed, my teaching job having increased to full time this fall (oh thank god). The four of us are all introverted to some extent, so staying home 99% of the time since March 13th hasn’t been as hard on us as for some. Um. Surely there’s more…OH! Kate and I presented at the virtual SENG conference this summer (that…that was this year…my god) on How to Talk So Teachers Will Listen and Listen So Parents Will Talk. It was well received and if she and I can push past pandemic brain and new full time jobs for the both of us we will do more with it. The country elected a new President and with him fresh hope for the future. I’m sure there was more good stuff this year, but like anything covered in shit, it’s hard to see through the smear.

Pot was legalized in Illinois this year!
Um…psst…Jen…wrong kind of buds.
Sigh. Fine.

At the end of May we replaced the MomVan. Bless the dealership for not laughing at her poor condition, and for giving us a pity $150 in trade-in value. I’d always planned to drive the MomVan into the ground, and by god I did. I knew her time was over when I had to hack off the plastic under-bumper to actually drive. I’m now in a delightful Subaru Forester with working…well, everything. I plan to drive this one into the ground as well, and still need to find a name for it. And I’ve spent hella less on gas this year. What else, what else… Andy started college, albeit remotely, and looks like we’ll be saving on room and board until fall. I put a cat door on Jack’s bedroom door this summer and now Ricky the Cat actually comes out from time to time; Tom caught him basking in a sunbeam the other day. OH! For the first time since leaving Colorado 9 years ago I have a container garden again; we just won’t mention how poorly I planted everything, resulting in a crappy harvest this fall.

So, so, so many thorns. Thick thorns, sharp enough to rip through gloves and pierce skin, drawing blood over and over.

Friends unexpectedly lost sons, brothers, husbands, fathers…to suicide, to accidents. Friends struggling with parenting during a pandemic, their kids struggling with living through a pandemic. The police shooting and riots in Kenosha hit close to home both literally and figuratively. Near panic attacks going to the store where it was silent as a tomb and people were afraid to even make eye contact, empty rows of shelves at Costco, washing groceries in the garage. Plans postponed, plans canceled. Husband furloughed in October, his return date pushed back again and again. Nearly all of my go-to self-care tools inaccessible. Unrelenting stress and frustration around remote teaching (big rose on this thorn is my students). Impressive (no, not really) weight gain. Worry about my family, my friends, the world as a whole. So much, too much, all the time. Societal fear so thick and present you can feel it in your pores, in your marrow, in your soul.

Some of the thorniest I can’t share because they’re not my stories to tell.

This shit better fertilize some better days ahead, but if I learned anything from the fustercluckfest that was my life 2011-12, it’s that the shit doesn’t care one whit about the calendar and will quit steaming when it’s good and ready. All I can do at this point is just sling seed bombs into the muck in hopes that something good eventually grows from it.

Wash your hands, wear a mask, and be well.

Whaddya think?

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